Punk Rock Hero Johnny Rotten Malibu Home Sold: Asking Price $1.995 Million


Is punk rock dead because Johnny Rotten sold his  four bedroom, three bathroom Malibu home with beach rights at around the asking price just under $2 million?  It was listed as

Needs TLC, sold as-is

which sounds pretty punk rock. Judging from the photos of the interior, Rotten–who has gone by his birth name John Lydon for decades–and his wife, German heiress Nora Forster, may want to hire an interior designer for the next home. Seriously disappointing style. If  meant to be hipster ironic, it missed the mark. The house itself, minus the fixer caveat, sounds pretty nice:

It comes with a pool, beach rights, a big deck, pool with waterfall and spa, pool bar, cabana/gym, fruit trees, and two-car garage plus parking for four more.

I actually like it when punk rockers do well. It’s not selling out, it’s making the most of what you do, and it’s better than starving. Lydon has created great music and has had some fun with image as well, like in this  butter commercial, which helped reunite PIL and get a new album out. But again, John, please consider some decorating help!

Pussy Riot Member Launches Hunger Strike Protesting Prison Conditions

Effective today Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, of Feminist punk rock outfit Pussy Riot, is undergoing a hunger strike to protest conditions at the Mordovia prison camp where she’s being held.

Currently serving a two year sentence for staging a concert demonstration outside Moscow’s main cathedral in protest of Vladimir Putin, in an open letter published by The Guardian she offers a lengthy and devastating account of her experiences.

24 year old Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is one of the three members of Pussy Riot arrested and tried in 2012 alongside Yekaterina Samutsevich (known as Katya), 31, and Maria Alekhina, 25. This past February, Katya was released because she’d been arrested prior to participating in the actual performance. Maria continues to serve time and was denied parole this past July.  The three members were the subject of a documentary that aired on HBO this year.  The film profiles the three members and shadows them throughout the trial – which ended with them being convicted of ”premeditated hooliganism” that was “motivated by religious hatred or hostility”, but not before captivating a global audience.

At 24 years old Tolokonnikova is often fingered as the ringleader of Pussy Riot.  In the documentary of the group’s efforts she was referred to by one Russian critic as “a demon with a brain.”

With a reputation that preceded her, Tolokonnikova notes that upon entering the camp she was greeted by Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov, head administrator at Mordovia – a location known for its dire conditions – who informed her that “we have broken stronger wills than yours.”

Her lengthy and frank assessment of the conditions at Mordovia reads like a field report;

My brigade in the sewing shop works 16 to 17 hours a day. From 7.30am to 12.30am. At best, we get four hours of sleep a night. We have a day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday. Prisoners submit petitions to work on weekends “out of [their] own desire”. In actuality, there is, of course, no desire to speak of. These petitions are written on the orders of the administration and under pressure from the prisoners that help enforce it.

She goes on to discuss conditions that pit inmates against each other with unofficial punishments.  She tells a story of a fellow inmates who had limbs amputated from being left out in the cold as punishment.  Another was beaten to death by a fellow inmate. After filing a report in May of 2013, she notes that Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov responded by making “conditions at the camp unbearable”.  In addition to being threatened by Kupriyanov, she acknowledges being provoked by fellow inmates who are trying to fight her.  In response to that she says:

Over and over, they attempt to get me to fight one of them, but what’s the point of fighting with people who aren’t in charge of themselves, who are only acting on the orders of the administration?

The entire letter is worth reading in full.

The women of Pussy Riot have repeatedly made their intentions clear– as artists, they view “changing the world” as an extension of their jobs. Their actions, including this current hunger strike, confirm that they’re not fucking around.  This isn’t a political endorsement or an appearance in a PSA – they’re intent on uprooting the system that they’re up against.

They are remarkable because they are relentless and prison or not — their spirits are far from broken.

Punk Rock Rebels, Repressive Regimes Fight Back

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the Elk’s Lodge riot in downtown Los Angeles where the LAPD cracked the skulls of punk rockers at a multiband show near MacArthur Park. Officers in riot gear stormed the historic Elks Lodge where local bands X, the GoGos, the Plugz, the Alley Cats and the Zeros were headlining, swinging batons, terrorizing and arresting young citizens for being different.

Rock and roll has been the music of rebellion and social change since the 1950s, and each successive wave of youths have discovered its power (chords) and embraced its do-it-yourself aesthetic. Punk rock and technology, from cassette tapes to MP3 and file sharing have made music the most easily understood and easy to identify mode of rebellious self-expression. The music, lyrics, and yes, fashion have been and are still threatening to the powers that be: Los Angeles Police chief Daryl Gates viewed punk rock, especially the band Black Flag, as a major threat, regularly sending in riot cops for their shows and says Black Flag drummer Greg Cameron:

Gates would get Black Flag tour dates and phone ahead to the local law enforcement agencies in those towns to “warn” them that Flag was coming.

Today punk rocks continue expressing dissatisfaction and challenging authority; and while punk may be almost 40, its revolutionary, self-empowering spirit has spread throughout the world to some of the most oppressive regimes, where musicians and fans are being imprisoned, “re-educated,” and murdered for daring to think and act differently.

In the past month in Iraq, per Reuters, 14 youths were stoned to death in Baghdad

in what appears to be a campaign by Shi’ite militants against youths wearing Western-style “emo” clothes and haircuts, security and hospital sources say.

Emo is modern style of punk music and dress that evolved in the late 1980s and is still popular with youth around the world. The Iraqi government has denied emo was the reason for the youths’ brutal death, but over the past weekend:

Militants in Shi’ite neighborhoods where the stonings have taken place circulated lists … naming more youths targeted to be killed if they do not change the way they dress.

The Guardian UK reports that in December 2011, where Indonesian youth which has been expressing itself through punk rock for two decades:

[A] punk gig took place in Aceh, Indonesia, the “special province” of the country that has its own police force pledged to maintain sharia law. Supposedly because the event’s organisers had forged official documents to gain the requisite permit, 64 of its attendees – who had travelled from all over the country – were arrested, and taken to a nearby detention centre, before being transported to a “remedial school” 37 miles away. There, their mohican hairstyles were forcibly removed because they were deemed “insulting to Islamic traditions”. According to a police spokesman, the group was held there to “undergo a re-education, so their morals will match those of other Acehnese people”. Demonstrations followed not just in Indonesia, but in London and San Francisco.

The recent Russian election brought punk rock to the forefront in the former Soviet Union when members of the feminist guerrilla punk collective (punk rock was the first genre where women/girls played all their instruments themselves) Pussy Riot were charged with hate crimes and violating a public order the day before the election, which kept Vladamir Putin in office as expected. Two members are still jailed and on a hunger strike.

Meanwhile last night at the über-hip SXSW in Austin, Tom Morello played a live concert for Occupy SXSW (Occupy Austin) attended by lots of folks who weren’t credentialed for the laminate-only festival/industry schmoozefest which was shut down by the police. Today, to celebrate the six months anniversary of the Occupy movement, there’s a Million Musician March for Peace taking place right now through the streets of Austin. Let’s see how the cops behave.


Art: Raymond Pettibone for Target Video, private collection

HT: We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk, by Brendan Mullen and Mark Spitz

John Roecker Gives Us A Green Day Xmas with Guerrilla Film Release

It’s a very Green Day Xmas from avant-garde director John Roecker–a favorite guest on Movie Night for his web series“Svengali” and documentary “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Gay Porn Stars” and his poignant, passionate video manifesto on creativity–who delivers his short film, a modern romance “They’re All Out Without You” as an underground alternative to “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  The film is based on characters originally visualized from Green Day’s Grammy Award winning album “American Idiot,”  the first true “punk rock” opera. This a a guerrilla online release, catch it while you can!

Originally shot as part of “Heart Like a Hand Grenade,” Roecker’s documentary, filmed during the making of Green Day’s seminal album  TAOWY, is compiled from footage that was lost for several years. Roecker told me:

The characters meet when the album is recorded. I wanted that Godard moment in Sympathy for the Devil, and Heart Like A Hand Grenade was turning out really long. I cut footage from 3 hours and stashed it, and forgot where it was. When our basement flooded, I found a lunch box and opened it up and there was the footage, so Dean my editor and I cut it up and I made the short.

Though the film, which stars Mikey Brannon and Ashleigh Darkbloom, showcases four songs by Green Day with the band’s blessing, the music usage  hasn’t been authorized by Warner Bros., the band’s label. With regards to that detail, Roecker says he doesn’t like the money part or legal part, he just wants to do art. But he also knows there might be ramifications of releasing a film with music that hasn’t been licensed.

Earlier this year, I lost forty-five percent of the vision in my right eye, and they can’t repair it. At the hospital I said to myself, “You know fuck it, I’m gonna release it if they sue me, they sue me.” Green Day is okay with it. And I would rather have five people see my work who like it, and how it was meant to be, than a million see it cut to pieces. I don’t want to have any problems with Warner Bros. And record labels have their own problems to deal with. They might not even care. But it’s nerve wracking, and it’s a big decision.

“They’re All Out Without You” is lush and rich, showcasing Roecker as a superlative filmmaker, well versed in the language of cinema, bold and passionate.  Whether TAOWY will last online through the New Year remains to be seen, so see it while you can here.

(And in light of of SOPA, this could play out very interestingly)

DMCA Abuse on YouTube, Punk Bands Targeted


In recent months there has been a slew of DMCA takedowns on YouTube affecting numerous punk bands.

Apparently SST Records, owned by Greg Ginn, has been utilizing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to claim copyright infringement on a vast number of videos that utilize brief clips of music from Black Flag, including skateboard videos made by fans. Well, gosh, that’s what copyright holders can do, though it does seem sort of mean.

SST has also claimed multiple copyright takedowns on bands that have nothing to do with SST, including X, Fear, Sin 34, Lower Class Brats, Puzzled Panthers, and the Adolescents. Also affected, videos made by fans under Fair Use, utilizing snippets of  songs.

YouTube user Creamy GoodnessX writes that SST:

have since admitted that they never even viewed the allegedly offending videos before issuing the strikes! Rather, they used automated software in their campaign, in many cases resulting in false DMCA takedowns of videos that were legitimately using copyrighted material under the fair use doctrine. Several users permanently lost their channels (i.e., termination), and others permanently lost special privileges like being able to upload videos longer than 15 minutes.

YouTube provides copyright holders with a Content ID program. YouTube account holders who use the software must submit title lists and audio files, as well as proof of copyright. The program can be used to:

  • Identify user-uploaded videos comprised entirely OR partially of their content, and
  • Choose, in advance, what they want to happen when those videos are found. Make money from them. Get stats on them. Or block them from YouTube altogether.>
  • Reduce Infringement. Educate your fans about your copyright preferences and prevent your content from being distributed on YouTube without your permission.
  • Fully Automated. Once you’re set up, Content ID will identify, claim, and apply policies to YouTube videos for you.

The DMCA takedown of “Democracy” by the Adolescents on Frontier Records, which also handles their publishing via Bug Music, indicated that a company called Love Cat Music had also claimed DMCA rights, along with SST. I wrote to Love Cat, which has only one punk band, Reagan Youth, in its catalog. Owner Randy Frisch replied:

i do not know why LoveCat Music is mentioned here.   Could be a mistake.

we have sent takedown notices with respect to other songs in our
catalog that we do in fact control.

But not this one

Is it possible that YouTube’s Content ID program is faulty and can’t tell punk songs apart? If so, major fail.

So I wrote to SST Record’s owner Greg Ginn and asked him about YouTube. At first he said

I don’t know much about YouTube.

Then I asked about fan videos being posted on YouTube. His response:

I then asked if he enforced copyright. He replied:

At times.


Greg did not write back, and blocked me on Facebook, making it impossible to contact him further. Ginn has been a brutal enforcer of SST’s copyrights, though oddly he showed disdain for U2′s when SST released Negativland’s single U2 (Full disclosure, I worked for a branch of SST Records in the mid-1980s. In 1991 I wrote an analysis of the U2/Negativland controversy for U2′s magazine Propaganda; when that piece was repurposed as a press release, I was paid. I know many former SST Records artists, as well as people affiliated with U2).

When a video is falsely DMCA’ed on YouTube, it is the responsibility of the real copyright owner to prove they are the rightful copyright holder. It can take up to 10 days for the DMCAed video to be restored.  Alerted to the Adolescents’ video takedown, Frontier Records’ owner and founder Lisa Fancher worked with YouTube, sending in the correct forms to restore the video.  Often bands do not know their videos have been taken down, or why, as in the case of Lower Class Brats:

How could they get our videos taken down off of YouTube and why would they do something like this? I am completely baffled…
I look forward to your reply, thanks….

Since it can take over a week to restore a video, DMCA-ing  a video is an effective means of harassment or of silencing speech, as seen during Anonymous’ Project Chanology when videos shot at protests and/or using Fair Use clips of Scientology videos, or the organization’s logos, were DMCA-ed.

If YouTube’s content identifying software is at fault for false DMCAs, then those using it should definitely alert YouTube about the glitches since it looks pretty creepy and bad to take down videos for which you do not own the copyrights. However, if  people are purposefully DMCAing  videos out of spite, and have a long record of false claims, perhaps YouTube should treat them with the same vigorous enforcement they show to copyright abusers.

YouTube’s PR department did not respond to my questions about the accuracy of its Content ID software, however they did say:

Unfortunately, in some cases, individuals abuse our notification process by submitting fraudulent claims.  When we become aware of this, we take action by reinstating the videos and/or accounts affected, and taking appropriate action against the individual responsible.

The PR person followed up to my questions about Content ID being possibly faulty with this:

You can read more about both of these things are our Copyright Center. Thanks!

Which is where I started in the first place.

Meryl Streep As Margaret Thatcher

Conservative icon and former British Prime Minister, the only woman to ever hold that position, Margaret Thatcher comes to the big screen with Meryl Streep in the title role of   “Iron Lady,” a nickname given Thatcher by Soviet Defense Ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda.

Thatcher was recently in the news when she declined a visit photo op from former Alaska governor/Tea Party pin up girl Sarah Palin on the latter’s Grand Tour. Her dozen years in office saw UK economic  and political unrest, the Troubles and hunger strikes in Northern Ireland, the invasion of the Falkland Islands and the Soviet State of Georgia, the Gulf War, Reagan and Bush, the fall of the USSR, and the explosion of British punk rock and New Wave music.

Thatcher permitted the U.S. to use British airspace  and Royal Air Force bases for F-111 bombers to target Libya in 1986 in retaliation for the bombing of a Berlin disco, and was a firm force behind President Bush 1′s invasion of Iraq, telling him:

This was no time to go wobbly!

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd who also directed Streep in Mama Mia!, Iron Lady will trace Thatcher’s rise from local politics to her election as Britain’s loathed-by-the left,-revered-by-the-right first (and so far only) female PM. The film is due out January 6, 2011.


[H/T: Hey You Guys]

Riot on Sunset Strip: Concert Goers Attacked with Rubber Bullets and Mace

Firing bean bags and rubber bullets while spraying mace into a crowd of concert goers, Los Angeles Sheriff Department deputies closed down Sunset Boulevard from Doheny Avenue to San Vincente Boulevard for two hours last night. Backed up by members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s riot squad and the Beverly Hills Police Department, LASD arrived as patrons exited a punk rock nostalgia show featuring Ill Repute, TSOL and Youth Brigade at the Key Club on Sunset Blvd.

The riot began around 10:30 p.m. Thurssday night, and closed down Sunset Blvd. — the scene of much earlier clashes between law enforcement and non-mainstream types, like 1966′s hippie riots immortalized in the film Riot on the Sunset Strip and the punk rock riot when Black Flag played the Whiskey in August of 1982. Their second show for that hot August night was canceled and the Whiskey’s then-manager told the Los Angeles Times that

it wasn’t really a riot until the police showed up.

Kinda’ like last night.

By 11:00 p.m., patrons of other clubs were told to go to their cars or stay inside. Here’s an eyewitness account which differs substantially from that given by law enforcement.

According to man-about-town and punk rocker Andre Boutilier, before he and his friend entered the club to see the second billed act TSOL, there was scuffle at the club’s entrance. The guy causing the problem was joined by a couple of buddies; more bouncers joined in the melee. When Boutilier and his companion entered the club,

We noticed there were no bouncers that we could see, and so we figured they were outside dealing with the situation. After TSOL, we went backstage to chat with the guys. A club staffer came back and said Youth Brigade would not be going on, and told them to pack it up and leave. No announcement had yet been made in main part of [the 450-person capacity club]. We helped the bands get their stuff together and walked out with them chatting on the way to their cars. We saw about 50 or 60 kids out front and overheard them being told that they couldn’t go in, despite having tickets. [La Figa: Well, yeah, the show was over]. That’s when the sheriffs started arriving, just a few cars at first, some of which set up a barricade to the west, towards Beverly Hills. Even before fans left the club, the sheriffs were  announcing that this was an illegal assembly and anyone remaining in the area would be arrested.

Boutilier and his friend had already left the venue and ducked into Shamrock Studio Tattoo. They witnessed the sheriff department’s riot squad take their position. About ten minuted after they were in place, fans were let out of club. It appeared to Boutilier that  in a move coordinated between the club and LASD, patrons were being keep inside until the riot police were in place.

As patrons were exiting, the sheriffs made another announcement that everyone should walk east, while repeating that this was an illegal assembly.

Patrons tried to move eastward, but it was very slow going as 450 people squeezed into the sidewalk, some looking for their friends, others confused. They didn’t move fast enough for the sheriff’s riot squad, which started firing rubber bullets with backup by the LAPD and Beverly Hills Police Department. Both KTLA and FOX News LA covered the scene. Fox’s on-air coverage varies from Boutilier’s and KTLA’s reports; FOX’s spin on the incident suggests the fans started the riot by throwing rocks and bottles, in opposition to the other stories.

Boutilier who I spoke to at 4:00 a.m. before any news aired told me,

stupid kids threw rocks and bottles after the rubber bullets were fired.

(in the video the narrator says “automatic guns; he meant gunfire)

Boutilier sums it up on his FB page:

Police overreact to minor conflict outside club. Shutdown the show before YB can take the stage. Then fire rubber bullets into crowd, unload industrial fire extinguisher filled with mace. Beat up the wrong kids. In their defense some idiot kids throw bottles at the cops that broke at their feet which was stupid of them.

The versions aired by KTLA — yes I’ve watched the local news from 4:30 a.m. on — showed police arriving, firing of rubber bullets, macing the crowd, and then the fans throwing rocks and bottles.

Even with editing footage from the two-hour long riot, the footage on KTLA broadcast supports Boutilier’s version, showing a sheriff’s deputy holding a large canister of mace and spraying several nonviolent patrons at close range as they walked away form the club.

What KTLA didn’t show (perhaps because of fallout from Rodney King video and the MacArthur Park May Day riot?) but Boutilier saw:

The deputy, after he emptied the canister, began hitting  kids with the metal container and several other officers had to pull him off.

The official law enforces chronology is different from that of Boutilier and KTLA. LAPD’s Sgt. S. Ruda told the LA Weekly:

Bouncers at the club got into it with fans outside the club, and responding deputies were met with rocks and bottles…Deputies responded and some patrons started forming a crowd..More deputies responded and they started taking bottles and rocks.

On their website KTLA reports

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies arrived in riot gear and used rubber bullets and mace to try and tame the hostile crowd. The rowdy group threw rocks and bottles at deputies.

There have have been three reports televised by KTLA so far, each one progressively making fans look worse, but still showing the sheriff’s firing before fans react violently; one kids is shown kicking a street sign, and people are indeed throwing rocks — totally stupid. Don’t you ever wonder where these urban rocks come from? I have walked up and down Sunset plenty of times and never seen a rock. Bottles, yeah, but not a lot of them, and trash cans aren’t that easy to dig into in the hope of finding a bottle. The second KTLA report had a voice over from the Sheriffs’ Dept. explaining that the sheriffs responded to a 911 call from the Key Club and showed up; once patrons exited the club, they started throwing things at the sheriffs.

[all photos, video Andre Boutilier, used by permission]

Former LAPD Police Chief Daryl Gates: Dead

(photo: 888bailbonds)

Former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates just died. You know, they guy who was founded DARE, was a consultant for the TV show SWAT and was at a swank fndraiser in the wealthy suburb of Brentwood during the Rodney King riots–all in all very LA career….

Black Flag drummer Greg Cameron recalls

Gates would get Black Flag tour dates and phone ahead to the local law enforcement agencies in those towns to “warn” them that Flag was coming.

And then there was the March 17, 1979 Elks Lodge “Riot” in downtown LA where riot geared cops cracked the skulls of punk rockers at a multiband show near McArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles.

Gates’ other career “highlights” here including his homophobic attitude towards the LGBT  community .

Malcolm McLaren: DEAD!

Last night PIL played on Jimmy Kimmel. Today, the New York Times announced that Malcom McLaren, the man behind the Sex Pistols–and Adam & the Ants and BowWowWow–has died of mesothelioma at a hospital in Switzerland.  He was 64.

McLaren had managed the New York Dolls as that great glam band fell apart, and on his return to London, where he and his girl friend at the time Vivienne Westwood ran a clothing shop called Sex, the budding impressario put together the Sex Pistols.

Boom! Punk rock! The world changed for millions of us. Goodbye Malcolm. And thank you.

Recession Rock: Warped Tour Jams Econo

The Warped Tour kicks off June 26th in Pomona with a whole slew of punk bands including  Bad Religion, the Adloscents, Fishbone, Flipper, Flogging Molly. Less Than Jake, TSOL, NOFX, slews of local bands plus punk rock karoake which is really fun.

The Warped website is offering discount pre-sale tickets, and Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, as seen in this video form the NY Post, promises a show that will deliver great music at a low cost, perfect for nowadays when cover to a club to see one band can be $25 and up.  Tickets for the all day event, with heaps of bands are running about $35.